I won’t pretend 2010 was the best year for my principality or that I wasn’t sorry to see the back of it. I’m not going to go into detail but this is the kind of feature that would usually be opened with a phrase like ‘What a great year that was!’ It wasn’t but that doesn’t mean that I can’t celebrate the best of it. Now that I’ve reviewed all the games and films of 2010 that I’m going to review (I’m not counting Muramasa – The Demon Blade which is still to come because that was a 2009 release) it’s time to decide what the best games, books and films of the year were. In the case of books I don’t keep as up to date with new developments as I do with the other two media, not least because new hardbacks aren’t cheap so in that category I’ll give the award to the best book I read for the first time in 2010. That’s the best I can do.
2010 Game off the Year: Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)
This was not a tough decision, in fact I can’t remember the last year where the best new game was so clearly ahead of everything else. The sequal to the 2007 smash hit Super Mario Galaxy seemed to achieve the impossible by being more than just ‘more of the same’, which would not have been a bad thing anyway. Galaxy 2 equals and maybe even surpasses its predecessor, perhaps not in terms of the wow factor but in overall polish and brilliance. With the groundwork laid Nintendo EAD had all the tools they needed to let their imaginations run riot and just create to their hearts’ content. The sequal is so stuffed with variety that you will almost never find yourself doing the same thing twice and the gameplay gimmicks never seem to dry up whether it be due to new powerups, Yoshi or level design. That combined with top drawer production values and better than ever longevity not to mention an improved degree of difficulty make this the sequal everyone wanted it to be. It perhaps lacks a sense of magic that ran through the original but it is nonetheless a resoundingly worthy follow-up and unquestionably my favourite game of 2010.
Runner-up: Donkey Kong Country Returns (Wii)
2010 Movie of the Year: Toy Story 3
This category was a lot closer and the prize almost went to Inception but for providing me with my happiest moment of the year I can’t ignore Toy Story 3. It was everything I wanted it to be, fun, colourful, hilarious, touching, exciting, scary and charming with a well-told story and every ingredient perfectly measured. It’s one hell of an achievement considering the pressure Pixar must have felt from their fans. The film stayed true to what made its predecessors great, building on original themes already explored and ramping up the emotional impact. It’s not often that a film comes along and I simply can’t find any fault with it but that’s what happened with Toy Story 3, there is nothing I would change. Even with DreamWorks upping their game with How to Train Your Dragon and Disney rediscovering their roots with The Princess and the Frog, Pixar remains the best in the industry by a clear distance.
2010 Book of the Year: The Chrysalids (John Wyndham)
This is a book that’s been sitting on the bookshelf for ages but only in the last year have I finally got round to reading it. It’s a strange thing to write about but the most striking thing about it to me is the cover which shows a bizarre wasp-lizard hybrid wielding a nasty-looking spear. It’s easily the most misleading book cover I’ve ever seen and the artist can’t possibly have read the book. The Chrysalids is set in a post-nuclear war future and depicts a North American society that has regressed. History has not recorded the nature of the war or indeed anything much that happened before it but this new, devoutly Christian world has become obsessed by the true image of humanity as described by a new prophet. As a result mutant humans, a legacy of the fallout, are persecuted and feared. These mutants however do not even resemble the monster on the cover. The first such we read about is a little girl with nothing more extraordinary than an extra toe on each foot. It’s an absorbing story that follows a group of youngsters capable of communicating with each other telepathically and deals with various issues from paranoia to equality. It’s a gripping and quite accessible read and not at all the genre-bound sci-fi monster fest the cover suggests.
Runner-up: The Colour of Magic (Terry Pratchett)
So that was 2010 but I’m a lot more excited about 2011, so now for a brief preview. There are two big developments in the gaming world that are dominating my thoughts for the coming twelve months, first the arrival of Nintendo’s new handheld the 3DS, due for release on the 25th of March. Every new console is exciting but this is extra special partly for the tantalising prospect of 3D gaming and partly for the stunning range of titles being prepped for the launch window including Mario Kart, Kid Icarus, Street Fighter, Paper Mario, Starfox, Metal Gear Solid, Pilotwings, Professor Layton, Super Monkey Ball, Dead or Alive and most importantly The Legend of Zelda – Ocarina of Time. Then there’s the all new The Legend of Zelda – Skyward Sword for the Wii. As a colossal Zelda fan there’s never a more exciting time than the approach of an all new home console title. I’ll go into more detail in my next post which will be my first Top Ten and will concern my Top Ten Most Anticipated Games of 2011. Movies and games aren’t something I’m quite so in tune with but there are a few of each I’m looking forwards to such as Disney’s Tangled and the next Redwall title The Rogue Crew. Perhaps more than all of this however is the fact that I’m planning on moving and living with friends this year and hopefully starting a new era of awesomeness.